Archive for the ‘Writing Process’ Category

Cops are people too

Sometimes it’s easy for us to get lost in the rhetoric these days and forget our humanity. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing so much. It allows me to expose the being behind the label and remind my readers that heroes and villains can come from every walk of life. This is especially important for members of our communities whose labels bring on such passionate and and extreme connotations. In this case, I am referring to law enforcement.

On several occasions, I have written of Evan’s “cop face.”  Adjectives that have accompanied this description have been along the lines of “wooden” and “stoic.” It’s a mask that I think exists for two reasons. It hides Evan’s humanity from the criminals with whom he must contend. It also acts as a shield to protect his humanity from the misery for which he gets paid to encounter every day. In theory he is supposed to absorb all of the depravity, lunacy, and violence and still react as an impartial enforcer of the law, “blind justice” being what it is. But in reality, a person cannot do that for years and come out the other end being the same as when they started.

Bernice, on the other hand, has witnessed first hand how a person of law enforcement can be corrupted, can decide to exert authority over others for exploitative purposes, and hide behind the badge and that cop face to conceal sins, some as atrocious as murder. Her perspective is different from Evan’s because she exists outside the fold of the law enforcement culture. She has no loyalty to consider, no sense of obligation with which to contend.

Meanwhile, Evan’s chosen profession often behaves more like a close knit family. He had to take an oath. There exists codes of honor that he is expected to abide by. Much like our armed forces abroad, our armed forces at home have vowed to defend our laws and law-abiding citizens. Putting themselves at risk each day creates internal bonds that aren’t easily broken, even when it is necessary to do so.

I hope in my writing I have demonstrated this duplicity of existence in our men and women in blue (or whatever color your local cop uniform happens to be). I hope I have presented them as people, flawed, fragile, courageous, and feeling people.

I asked a reader once why she liked my books. She replied, “They make me think.” What a lovely compliment.


Oh well, maybe I do suck

So, as I have explained in previous posts, I started my journey into writing with a dream of being a screenwriter, more specifically, a screenwriter for television. I finally got my feedback from the pilot I submitted to a screenwriting contest last fall. It wasn’t good. What I mean is the feedback was honest and very reasonable, but my submission wasn’t good. Let me clarify that this is the third submission in about ten years that has failed.

Admittedly, I’m feeling pretty sad. That can’t be helped. There’s always a grieving process that takes place when a creative project is rejected. It’s necessary to move on. And honestly, this is a project that needed to fail. This is a dream that needed to die.

How I write has changed because my life has changed. Presently, I am engrossed in the world of a toddler, simpler, more innocent, more socially sensitive. I honestly couldn’t tell you what’s good on television beyond the small 90 minute window I allow myself on Sunday nights to watch Masterpiece on PBS. Sometimes, even that’s a stretch, if it’s a mystery and it’s too violent to have running while my full time job is still awake.

The sharpness of dialogue, the veracity of action and story, the clear conveyance of emotion, these are all elements of good screen writing that are foggy to me at the moment, like they are buried in some murky tide pool that I just don’t have to stones or energy to dig into. That’s a hard reality to accept, but reality it is, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that I am finished as a writer. It just means that I need to continue my journey from where I am in the present moment and not force my perspective into a future that doesn’t exist.

I am happy to be able to continue my journey with Bernice and Evan and Darlene and Cameron and the all their friends, enemies, baggage, foibles, and dilemmas. They still need me.

So, why a pastor? Good question

I cannot thank my local fans enough for all of their praise and inspiration. This title in particular was actually suggested by a pastor during a conversation with none other than my mother (also a big fan and one of my usual beta readers. Apparently, after a certain age, that discretionary “mom” filter falls away, and the woman who is left feels liberated enough to read her daughter’s written sex scenes without getting weirded out. Who knew?)

As it happens, there are a number of clergy folk who read my books. Even those who receive the divine calling need a  break once in a while. I welcome them with everyone else.

Anyhow, as I understand it, my mom was taking fellowship at church and the pastor was at their table, explaining one of his good works. Was it feeding the needy, or mission in a far away land? Nope. His volunteer task of choice was giving rides to arrested individuals who had been released from jail and had no way to get home.

Noble a task as it was, even the pastor had to acknowledge there was a level of danger involved with his good intentions. Someone at the table pointed out the obvious, that an unrepentant soul could overpower him and carjack him, or worse. The pastor looked at my mom and said jokingly (I’m pretty sure this is close to the quote), “If I’m not careful, I’ll end up in one of your daughter’s books. I’d be the Pastor in the Pasture.”

So, thanks for the great title, Pastor, and be careful what you wish for. And for those of you who actually believe I’m going to use that exact plot for this book…Yeah, like you’re going to get off that easily? Dream on.